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Expanded home occupations plan gets a haircut

Home-based barbers and beauty salon operators would face sharper limits on the number of customers they could serve.

Working from home.

Members of Evanston’s Plan Commission this week balked at some aspects of a staff proposal to loosen restriction on home occupations in the city.

They suggested that allowing six customers at a time and 12 customers per day at a home-based barbershop or beauty salon would amount to “too much expansion of retail activity into a residential neighborhood,” in the words of Commissioner Kristine Westerberg.

So they asked staff to cut those limits in half in a revised proposal to be presented at the commission’s Dec. 9 meeting.

Currently barbershops and beauty salons are not permitted as home occupations.

The commissioners also objected at their Wednesday meeting to the idea of raising the percentage of a dwelling unit that could be devoted to a home occupation to 49% and suggested keeping the current limit 25% instead.

The revisions proposed by staff would also allow limited indoor recreation uses including one-on-one personal training and small group activities like yoga classes as home occupations, which are not permitted now.

In a memo to the commission, Community Development Director Johanna Nyden says that home occupations are expected to become become increasingly prevalent as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Many types of work can be done in a home with little or no effect on the surrounding neighborhoods,” the memo says, and expanding the permitted uses for home occupations “will encourage residents to register their home business with the city and help foster new economic opportunities and entrepreneurship.”

Nyden’s memo says nearly 70% of registered home businesses in the city are office or professional services occupations with rest consisting of arts, recreation and retail goods and services occupations.

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